Are you among the people who wonder why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by elderly men? I have never had this question. I guess I have always understood what President Gordon B. Hinckley told Mike Wallace when he asked a similar question on the national television news program “60 Minutes.” President Hinckley said, “Isn’t it wonderful to have a man of maturity at the head, a man of judgment who isn’t blown about by every wind of doctrine?” (broadcast on April 7, 1996).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this topic in the November 2015 General Conference. He gave the above quote from President Hinckley and then said, “My purpose is to explain why indeed it is wonderful to have older men of great spiritual maturity and judgment serving in the senior leadership positions of the restored Church of Jesus Christ – and why we should `hear’ and `hearken’ (Mosiah 2:9) to the teachings of these men whom the Lord has `chosen to bear testimony of [His] name… among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people’ (Doctrine and Covenants 112:1).”
Elder Bednar explained that he had “been the youngest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in terms of chronological age. During my years of service, the average age of the men serving in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has been 77 years – the oldest average age of the Apostles over an 11-year interval in this dispensation.
“I have been blessed by the collective apostolic, personal, and professional experience and insight of the quorum members with whom I serve.”
Elder Bednar then proceeded to share an experience he had with Elder Robert D. Hales. He said that he spent a Sunday afternoon with Elder Hales several years ago while he was recuperating from a serious illness. He asked the older Apostle: “You have been a successful husband, father, athlete, pilot, business executive, and Church leader. What lessons have you learned as you have grown older and been constrained by decreased physical capacity?
“Elder Hales paused for a moment and responded, `When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.’
“I was struck by the simplicity and comprehensiveness of his answer. My beloved apostolic associate shared with me a lesson of a lifetime – a lesson learned through the crucible of physical suffering and spiritual searching.”
I was particularly touched by this counsel from Elder Hales because I find that I cannot do all that I used to be able to do. I too have learned that I have to set priorities in my life and do those things that matter most first. Then I can do other things if my time, effort, and stamina are sufficient to accomplish more.
Elder Bednar shares counsel that he has learned from other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I gained a lot of motivation when I read Elder Bednar’s talk this week. I hope you will also read it once again to learn from this humble Apostle of the Lord.